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Education, school choice at forefront of civil rights 50 yrs after MLK assassination

Martin Luther King Jr. march and banner ATLANTA.jpg
The legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior 50 years after his assassination: A Democratic State Rep. from Seattle, Eric Pettigrew, tells KVI about the importance of education--including school choice--to bridge racial disparity and advance equality. (AP file photo/Wilfredo Lee)

A half century after the murder of civil rights icon, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, America yearns for answers and solutions about racial equality .

Look to education says African-American Washington State Representative, Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle). Pettigrew tells KVI that education and economic equality are connected. He highlighted the failure of educating students of color over the last 40 years and his support of school choice measures like charter schools.

"It's a little disheartening", Pettigrew said for a school system to fail students of color. "It's a little disheartening sometimes to see people who are part of that group, people sometimes in the African-American community, who say 'hey no, let's stick with the plan. Let's just stick with it.' When in reality it's still not working. So, I do think that that is part of it. I don't know if it is driven solely by racial inequality . I definitely think that that is part of it. I think its more of institutional protection. Why change something when it seems to be benefiting the majority of the folks who are benefiting from it. "

KVI's John Carlson responded, "Its benefiting the people who run it (the public schools) but its supposed to be benefiting the children (students)".

Pettigrew replied, "You could probably find that kind of contradiction in a lot of institutions, ya know, no matter how you look at it." Speaking about the contemporary pursuit of Rev. Dr. King's vision of equality Pettigrew concluded, "its' part of who we are as a country. I Education is the...it's our life blood. Education is definitely the key. And if we deny people that (education), whether its institutional or its intentional we are really cutting the blood line for who we are as a country and eventually when you cut blood lines, eventually things get weak and things ultimately die."



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